We’re drawing closer to the stable patch, and in doing so we’re in need of a few more items! Here we have the creation of a vest, a pair of shoes, a full card album (could it be real?!), a pair of earrings and a new hat: the fez!

 

Since we decided that the shield salesman will be dealing with armor as well, I figured I’d put a random armor among his many shields to illustrate that fact as well:

And here’s a bunch of items that weren’t recorded, featuring a shoulder strap, a battery, a camera lens, a …seven.. three drop appearances for cutouts that will become available as housing items and a ton of weapon sprites for all the weapons Fred has been working on. Phew!

Next up, the background for the professor Pine and Tannie cutscene needed a bunch of new (and old) stuff, and for some reason I decided to make a short video of that process:

 

We’re also introducing a pair of friendly faces in the town of Port Monnaie. Remember where these guys are from?

Perhaps this cutout will serve as an additional reminder:

The girl has been animated by Fred as well:

Next, the shop titles for all of the shop! We’ve been so busy making things for them to sell that we actually managed to forget they need graphics for the shop’s interfaces…. Oh well, that’s an easy fix:

All of the shops in Port Monnaie will carry new unique items, though some will also sell things available earlier in the game. The Potion shop will work just like Remedi’s Alchemy and will allow you to change your potions; which, by the way, will be an added function to the potion shop in Tai Ming as well (though if you’ve played so far as to reach the desert, I’m afraid you won’t be able to access the Tai Ming shop anymore).

The Jar, Souvenir and Carpet shops will all be focused on housing items, while the others will carry new gear; Helmut & Headgear carries hats, Topaz’ accessories, Shield + Guard armors and shields, and Blade and Arms sell, unsurprisingly, weapons.

Another thing that remained was making these expressions for Professor Pine and Tannie in the flashback orb showing their work on stopping Zhamla:

And now, finally, with the addition of this final piece..:

..(which is the graphic for the desert fishing achievement), I think (for like the 5th time) I’m officially done with everything needed for the stable patch. Let’s hope I’m right this time :D

Now, there’s a lot more Ghost Ship backgrounds to do, so let’s jump straight back into it! First up is a bunk room of sorts, where the sailors used to sleep when they were still working on the ship and they weren’t ghosts:

Here you will battle enemies, and once a prototype for the kitchen is ready, I will add the kitchen on the right side, one platform up but on the same screen (I will add a jumpdown back into this bunkroom from there). One idea we have for decorations here when toggling into the ghost world is that you’ll see skeletons of the sailors in their beds… But I’m not sure if this will be too macabre or not. What do you guys think?

Next, we have a set of rooms one next to the other, both of the smaller kind. There will be a corridor above these two rooms, where the path is blocked, so you have to pass through these two rooms to get to the other side. And here’s the first one:

Like with the bunk room, we have a few ideas for ghost world-only decorations here too. In this case, we want to make a spooky version of the painting on the right and possibly some spooky shine around the candles and lanterns on the tables.

Time to make some more portraits for the flashback orbs you’ll be able to find throughout the world in that upcoming stable patch (and the frontline patch that naturally will precede it). Perhaps you’ll be able to recognize this silly young girl, and imagine what awesome trio will be featured in the next orb we’re making:

Any guesses? ;)

Next up, unsurprisingly… Two young gangsters in the making, and now I think you most certainly can start to guess who will be the subject of this flashback orb:

However, there’s one more character involved in the events that will be portrayed…

Hold your horses. Mandrake. Out of all characters, why Mandrake? What did he do in his young days to warrant a portrayal in a flashback orb? What’s his connection to the Black Ferrets? Has he really always looked this ridiculous?!

I guess y’all better find this memory orb and find out (once it’s been implemented) :D

Alright, so previously I’ve mentioned three flashback orbs that will be available, dealing with Zhamla finding his first card, Young Dad meeting equally young Ivy and Charlotte, and Charlotte speaking to the winter elder after saving Santa Fae from the legendary Goblin King.

Since then we’ve decided to add two more such orbs, one that details how the Black Ferrets gang came to be (which yes, weirdly enough involves professor Mandrake!), and one that features Professor Pine and Tannie working on the weapons they used when trying to defeat Zhamla.

The portraits for the mentioned events have been made, but now they all need expressions to fit what’s going on:

Meanwhile, a different piece remaining before the desert is fully ready for the stable patch is a set of treasure maps. These will be given to you by the archaeologist Finder, who is busy doing other things and cannot dig at so many places at the same time. So it’s up to you to find and bring back these ancient treasures to the archaeologist’s collection:

Perhaps by doing so, you might even get some sort of reward?!

As for the maps themselves, they too need to be made. And since you’re here and have read this far, you can have a look at them before anyone else:

Can you figure out where to look for the treasure? :)

And now an update from the programming and animation department! Teddy and Fred have been working hard on adding the remaining Flashback Orbs, which which means there’s a ton of new sprites and animations needed. First one of young Zhamla casting a spell:

Vilya beating someone up:

Young mandrake’s design and animations of him walking threateningly and running away from something scary (wonder what that could be):

And a bunch of designs for an ancient piece of weaponry, once meant for Phaseman. Unfortunately (?) for the player, the piece ended up sold and shipped off on a certain ship instead. The first time we’ll see this ancient relic is in the flashback orb with Tannie and Professor Pine, but I have a feeling you’ll see it again, somewhere…

Since we’re adding a bunch of quests, drops and a few craftables, there’a also a bunch of items to be made. Here we have the given #1 favorite weapon for all classes, a book:

And the #1 favorite housing item for every player in the world, the cat food bowl in action:

Who can’t wait to fill their house with cats?!

Continuing with the memory orb stuff, it’s time for me to make a bunch of edits to the backgrounds! Since the world the memory orbs show are several (sometimes hundreds of) years in the past, it’s only natural some things have changed.

For one, since we’ve seen the Rabby statues be made around the time of your completion of the Collector’s trial, it needs a background version where they don’t exist yet:

And in Santa Fae / Seasonne, the NPCs comment on how it’s not supposed to be winter in the area yet. So what better way of showing the memory shown in the memory orb is nowhere near recent, but the make the world it shows in a different season altogether?

Finally, in Startington, we go so far back in time there’s not yet anyone living on the mountain. Instead it’s infested by slimes and trees!

Of course, in the above version, we used the old version of the trees, which has since been replaced by the correct ones (and slightly edited since Teddy changed the number of slimes between me making the background above and the finished thing):

As we’ve also decided to add the season orbs needed to reach certain parts you haven’t been able to reach yet, I’ve been making some snowy paths around Grindea to get you across where you need to go:

We’ve also decided to add a housing item in the form of a bowl of cat food! This will be awarded in a quest, and if you place the item in your house you’ll soon find you have a guest… :)

As such, Fred has been making some additional cat animations, to make sure your cat can move around the house:

Teddy, meanwhile, has been implementing said quest and will soon begin working on the next things, among which are those memory orbs!

We’ve also received the sound effects we need, and although there might be a few more needed for these side quests and memory orbs we’re currently working on, most of them have been chosen and ready to be implemented. I think it’s gonna be a quite different experience to play through the areas with all these glorious sound effects, so stay tuned for that :)

P.S. Remember how I mentioned the Ghost Ship “cleaning room” was the first room of the second floor, but it mysteriously didn’t have any stairs leading below deck? I’ve fixed it! And also added a missing door to the right, leading to the bunk room:

Though now I wonder if I should remove the windows haha! Having them there would probably only work if you imagine they’re *really* thick… Oh well!

And now…

https://youtu.be/souq841cuXM

What’s this?! A new kind of room, not exactly fitting into any of the sceneries we’ve been working on lately? Where could this be?!

Alright, so this is a “hidden” (not exactly) room that will be added to the church of Port Monnaie, where you’ll be able to read some interesting (?) documents on the history of the faith and Grindea herself.

…Because that’s clearly the kind of things one would keep in a damp cellar such as this…

Not sure whether this will be added to the upcoming stable patch or if it’ll be a later addition yet, but now it’s been made, anyway!

We’re not only making progress with the stable patch, there’s been a ton of progress in the enemy department as well! Let’s take a first look at our set of enemies, starting with the sword-wielding sailor:

As you can see, his sword is part of the physical world and can harm you even outside of the ghost world. Unfortunately, you can’t damage the sword, so you’ll have to toggle into the spirit world, where his ghastly form is visible, to do damage to him!

On this ship we also have a new and improved version of the Ghosty, which leaves a trail of some kind of ectoplasm on the ground. The ectoplasm doesn’t do anything in the ‘regular’ world, but once you enter the ghost world it will slow you down a lot! Both the Ghosty and the ectoplasm will probably be recolored, the ghost so it’ll look more unique compared to the Pumpkin Woods version, and the ectoplasm because.. red ectoplasm seems weird!

In the gif above you can also see something we’ve been playing around with: a line of skulls that do damage in the ghost world which you can only avoid by toggling back to your own dimension.

And this leads us to the third enemy so far, the sailor mage! These fellows have two main abilities – they can damage you, and they can turn another enemy into an elite. Below you can see our first iteration, where the mage channels a spell at you, which is basically a lightning blast that will hit you for sure unless you return to the regular world, as well as it channeling the make-elite spell at the sailor swordsman:

Since we felt this could be improved on quite a bit, we made a bunch of changes, merging the mage with the skull-line ability: meaning we removed the channeling lightning blast and instead having the mage cast the skull line we played around with in the Ghosty gif.

We also changed the spell type of the make-elite spell from something that channels on top of the enemy to an orb that is released from the mage and flows into the enemy it’s buffing, in this way making the battlefield much less cluttered while the mage channels his spells:

We’re also working on a third type of attack for the mage, where he’ll be able to pick up items in the regular world and hurl them at you from a distance – like some kind of poltergeist! Needless to say, working on these enemies around the the time of Halloween has been great.. :)

…so here we have the first iteration of the poltergeist attack! First as a WIP in Evergrind City:

… and then as a more finalized version inside the ghost ship, looking more like it should in the end:

This attack definitely make things more interesting! With this set of enemies, things are already pretty hectic and fun, but in the end we’ll likely make one more; a crab of some kind that is a ‘regular’, that is, living enemy that works the same both in the normal world and the ghost world.

I personally feel the battles on this ship are among the most fun we’ve made in the game so far, so I hope you guys will enjoy it too!

Lastly, Fred’s making a bunch of progress for the memory orbs as well! Gotta have young version sprites of Dad, Ivy and Charlotte after all! Here we have a bunch of them in action:

Last week I made the entrance cave and the reward cave for the optional math puzzle sequence. This time around it’s the actual math puzzle’s turn to be made! In the GIF below you can see the basic process for the creation of each of these rooms:

And now we can take the same graphics and apply them for each of the difficulty settings (yes, the last one gives me nightmares too – in fact, most of these give me nightmares):

On top of these, there will be a set of wall- and floor variations so it won’t look like you go through the exact same room every time. For the endless math puzzle version there’s also this counter on the wall as seen below, which allows you to keep track of how many puzzles you’ve completed so far (we’ve capped it at 999 since we don’t think anyone has the stamina to do any more of those… but maybe one of you will prove us wrong?):

There’s still some random fixes I want to get done before the stable patch hits, so here’s a bunch of those again!

First up, closing up the tree so it doesn’t look like you can walk into it (I know this is a common enough problem in the game already!):

The optional Math Caves need its own entrance as well, which fits its aesthetics better than the current; hence the removal of the wood in favor of this more metal-y entrance:

Of course, in the final thing, there will be a few of those flaming goblets as well.

There’s one of two more quests to add for the stable patch, one of them involving this drinking fellow at the Saloon. As such, it’s fair to give him a bunch of new expressions:

And since you can’t have a quest without a reward, here are two mysterious sprites involved in this quest:

It was a while since we had a meeting, but now it’s time to start getting serious about the Ghost Ship and design the 2nd and 3rd floors! So we sat down and discussed what kind of things we’d like to see, brainstorming various design ideas for how the floors could look.

We already had some basics down: we wanted there to be a kitchen and dining area for the ship’s crew on the 2nd floor, and a grand ballroom, a set of cabins as well as the captain’s bedroom on the 3rd. With this information in mind we made a bunch of sketches, quickly discarding a few of them.

Here’s one of our ideas for floor 2:

A quick sketch for one of the “puzzle” rooms:

The 3rd floor:

And one of the versions we scratched:

As before, we’re not quite sure about how some of the puzzles will look in the end, so I’ll probably stay away from making backgrounds for those rooms until we have some kind of prototype, focusing instead of the more static rooms such as the basic battle rooms! And one such room I can make is this cleaning room:

Using the base from a previous room idea, I make a bunch of cleaning sprites and water on the floor. The idea is that the mops will be animated and that this room will be used as a battle room, the first of the 2nd floor!

Meanwhile, Fred has been a busy necromancer, animating a bunch of skeletons (haaaaha – get it?):

The above are, as you might realize from the sword, the melee version! The magic user version looks slightly different and has another color scarf as well:

As Fred made these sprites, he came up with a rather interesting idea: to be able to cut off the head of the skeletons and have it turn into a stand-alone, different enemy (which would work much like a Jumpkin). The idea was born as he made the head on a separate layer and removed the layer from the animation:

Pretty neat, huh? I think these enemies will be a lot of fun! What do you guys think?

Alright! Time for what I *believe* will be the final batch of fixes (on my end, anyway) for the desert before the patch lands! There’s still a portrait or two left, but here’s a bunch of the minor additons I’ve been working on:

First up, a Merchant Isles’ sailor hat, that might become yours if you complete a certain quest! Another item that is involved in a quest is the below part of a statue:

This farmer is a character who you’ll meet in these new quests as well, so I’ve been making a couple of expressions for him:

Meanwhile, I wasn’t completely happy with the anatomy of the mayor’s portrait, so I’ve made a slight fix for it and also aged her slightly (old version first, then the new one):

There’s a couple new items as well, which means there’s need for more drop appearances! Among these are a bottle based on an animation made by Fred (you can see his sprite on the right in parts of this WIP-gif), as well as a tomato and an onion!

We also changed the layout of the mayor’s house a bit, adding more items and characters, making the place feel more like the art/history exhibition it has become (old version first):

Finally, I wanted to increase the amount of greenery in one of the caves, so I went back and added a bunch of plants and leaves here and there:

Previously, I remade the portrait of the Mayor, but another portrait we weren’t quite happy with was that of Wishi (who also happened to look oddly similar to the Mayor’s first portrait):

Only one way of fixing this, and it’s to throw together another portrait, this one giving a bit more of an attitude:

And the finished remake below:

As usual, you can’t have a boss battle (even if it’s a side battle not related to the main story) without a boss portrait. This portrait will be slightly different as it’s the first one that has a sprite in front of the textbox! We thought the tomato would look cute in front of it, rather than have all his vegetables hidden behind the box.

WIP and finished version below:

I’m working on the cards as well, and while they may not be included in the patch, they should be added shortly after! Here’s a video featuring the creation of the Sand Raven card, where one such annoying bird is preparing a meal:

 

Now, a couple weeks ago I estimated that by now the patch would arrive! However, as you’ve certainly noticed, no patch has been uploaded yet – so what has happened? Well the short version is that we wanted to make things more interesting (don’t we always), so the added work has pushed the patch forward by a couple of days.

In other words, we hope to release the patch in the beginning of this week instead (hopefully tomorrow)! Serves me right for making estimates, they just never end up being correct…

Anyway, in the meanwhile, have some sneak peeks of what you’ll see in the upcoming patch, starting with a couple of animations for the desert carpenter:

Two more items:

Due to something you may or may not do, there will be changes in the desert map:

A new type of halloweed?!

Aaand a ton of new expressions for people you’ll interact with:

Stay tuned, and let’s hope this estimate of the patch release will actually be right this time!!

Moving on to lesser priority NPCs that may or may not make it into the patch, we have a priest that will be available in the church in Port Monnaie! In the beginning we wanted the church to belong to Bishop, but in the end we decided to leave him in the desert instead, letting this church be a remnant of the ancient religion you saw once in the past of Tai Ming instead.

As such, she’ll wear the same style of hat as the priests back in the day wore, though her overall garb is inspired by modern day priest outfits rather than the ancient robes worn by the priests of Tai Ming’s past:

As for the Ghost Ship, since I made the only two rooms for the first floor that I can make before prototypes of the rest have been made, I’ve decided to move on to do things for the second and third floor instead.

While the design of these floors haven’t been properly established, there are a bunch of rooms we know we want to include. One such room is a kitchen, so in preparations for making the room, I’ve spent some time making a ton of props for the room. Perhaps not all of these will be used, and perhaps I’ll need to make some more once we actually design the room, but this is a good base to have – and in worst case, I’m sure we’ll be able to use some of these props in other parts of the ship (or, in other parts of the world)!

Here’s a video of the progress:

Aaand the props in their finished state:

One portrait we weren’t quite happy with was that of the mayor, which can be seen below:

Not only is the style a bit off compared to the other portraits in the game, we didn’t feel the overall quality of it was quite up to par, so we decided I should remake it. Using Fred’s newly made NPC sprite as the inspiration, I began the remake:

And here’s the new version! I know the anatomy of her head is a bit off – don’t worry, it’ll be fixed in an upcoming edit :)

Now, this week is rather portrait heavy, as more last minute characters are added! This boy is a receptionist in a building where the mayor’s husband exhibits his expensive collection of ancient findings – some which originate from the ancient Tai Ming!

As for Fred’s progress: remember those vegetable enemies Fred made a while ago? Wouldn’t be much of an enemy if there’s no way for them to appear, or to defeat them, so of course each of them need a spawn and death animation.

Are you ready to eat your vegetables?

A few weeks ago we had a discussion about whether we’d include these in the frontline patch or not, since you’ve been waiting so long and this is “merely” part of a side quest relating to the desert. However, because of the desert taking so long, we decided it’s more fun to include a couple of these side quests as well, since they won’t take that much extra time to add (we already prepared the graphics anyway).

Our estimate is to have the patch up and running either late this week or in the beginning of the next, so unless something unforeseen happens, get ready to battle these cuties very soon!

Sorry for the late post! If you can believe it, I’ve been sick for nearly two weeks with quite the fever – but now we’re all back on track! This weeks recap will be short as well, since both I and Teddy continued to be ill, BUT I have two new portraits and a bunch of Fred’s animations for you :)

First up, an autumn fae who will be hanging out in the desert with her friends at the Saloon:

The other portrait is that of an archaeologist. I think this is the final archaeologist for now – at least I hope we have enough by now (there’s quite a few of them already, to be honest)!

This guy is inspired by none other than Howard Carter, who was the archaeologist who discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb!

And finally, Fred’s animations!! Thankfully he never caught the cold, so he’s been busy making a ton of animations for all the desert NPCs and other various odds and ends happening over there! Check these things out:

Vilya scaring Freddy and Teddy out of a slump?!

A sleeping carpenter lady…

…An archaeologist brushing through the sands…

…a dragon grabbing onto a planet (what in the world could this mean?!)…

…another archaeologist, studying a tablet of some sort…

…Ledge from the Collector’s HQ, enjoying some music…

…with none other than Sally, also from the Collector’s HQ!

Then we have a bunch of flavor animations, bringing the desert to life:

..and lastly, Vilya again, waiting impatiently for something (probably the release of the new patch):

Quite exciting, no?! The desert has more NPCs than the other most NPC-heavy area in the game (Tai Ming), and I’m pretty sure it’s the most animation-heavy area as well. We’re quite happy with the way things look this far, so hopefully you guys will like it too!

Okay! Who’s ready for more desert fixes?! Seeing as we’ve named the desert Dragonbone Dunes, we wanted to add more dragon stuff to the area. First step is to make some dragon head statue pillars:

We also wanted to decorate those walls with some dragon wing plates:

But not all fixes on this map are of the dragon-decorative kind! There’s also a puzzle, which, as it’s now been properly designed, needs a more permanent background:

As part of the puzzle, we decided to add a bonus chest as well, so made a slight extension of one of the rocks to make room for that:

Behold the progress so far, almost done:

…actually, scratch that! Since the cave in the middle is a mushroom cacti cave, I thought it’d be fitting to put a bunch of them outside as well:

In the animation department, Fred has been hard at work with some cool environmental things that will appear in the desert! First up, we have the frozen cacti that will unlock a shortcut further into the desert, once you reach a certain season orb:

Second, a rope ladder! Since there’s a place where we really want the player to be able to move up and down quickly (though only after getting there the first time), we decided to introduce a rope ladder that you’ll be able to ‘activate’ after making your way to it.

No desert is complete without tumbleweed, so Fred has been experimenting with getting those up and running as well! Here’s a bunch of his WIP ideas:

He’s also making more NPCs, and here we have the progress sheet of the old scientist looking for ghosts! We’ve decided to name her Dr. Spengler as tribute to a special character in this sort of field. Who do you think that is?

As for something completely different: as I believe we have mentioned, once you complete Tai Ming, flashback orbs will activate throughout all of Grindea. While we haven’t added any just yet, these flashback orbs are set to give you insights into events that happened before you were around; stories of your parents, Zhamla, and other important events that have occurred throughout the world.

As part of the desert update, at least before it gets released on stable, we’ll include a set of these with more to be added in later updates.

The ones we’ll include in this update features memories that give some insight into your mother’s friendship with the fae, how your parents met, and how Zhamla found his first card! While they might not be vital to the story as a whole, we feel that each of these orbs will give some depth to the world and the people within it.

The dialogue for these have already been written, but we’ll return to actually implement them once the rest of the desert is done; likely while you guys are all busy beta testing those new enemies and boss fights!

In the end, once the game is done, we want to add plenty of these orbs, to give you a glimpse of many different things of the past. Are there any events or characters in particular you’d like to see? Let us know and we’ll see what we can do!

As or the portraits this week, the first one features the hat salesman of Port Monnaie, which we actually have decided to give quite a story. Because Helmut is a real life name that’s simply too good to pass up on, we decided to name this guy just that. However, seeing as we have a helmet called Helmit, we didn’t want to confuse people too much by having two characters with very similar names…. So we decided that Helmut and Helmit will be friends!

As such, you old acquaintance from Tai Ming will make a comeback in the desert town, where he’ll be hanging out with this swell fellow:

Finished sprite:

And you can’t have a beach town without tourists, so the second portrait this week will feature a guy shopping for souvenirs at the market place in Port Monnaie: currently, he’s very interested in a t-shirt!

Aaaand we return, slightly more well rested and ready to get back into the action!

Now that the desert and desert town is in place, it’s time to update the world map into a somewhat final version (there’s still the ghost ship remaining, but I’ll easily be able to add that later, as it’s in the midst of the water anyways)!!

Let’s take a look:

 

 

 

So basically, this is what the world map will look like after you’ve visited all of the areas (except the ghost ship):

So exciting! Only one more little ship to add, and then it’s all done. I’ve reworked the shadows that covers each area before you’ve explored it slightly as well, so you’ll notice things will look a bit different once this has been implemented. There will be 12 pieces to uncover in total, once the ghost ship has been added (13 if you count Tai Ming – but the Tai Ming piece of the map isn’t visible at all until you’ve actually been there). Right now I think there are a couple more than that since we wanted to make sure we had space for the areas we hadn’t designed yet, and their shapes look a little random. The water will be visible from the start, giving the map some more color from the beginning, as well.

Exciting times! This actually feels like such a huge milestone, even if the ghost ship is missing. I mean, even if the ship is missing – it looks complete on a whole different level compared to before. It’s been a long journey, but you can finally start to see it all coming together!

Speaking of the ghost ship, we’ve been making a ton of prototypes for various challenges and mechanics we’d like to include. First we have a challenge where you need to go between various platforms, and the only way of doing so is entering the spirit world. Only problem is, there’s an angry ghost attacking you if you enter his domain – so you can’t stay too long or you’ll take guaranteed damage.

We’re currently considering whether you’ll fall down if you leave the spirit world in the midst of a bridge. The other idea would be that you simply can’t leave until you’re on solid ground.

Next, a variation on the same theme. Here we have a prototype where you battle enemies in the ‘real’ world, in which you do less damage than you normally would on a similar enemy. Entering the spirit world, you do full damage, but you also get chased by the angry ghost from before! Decisions, decisions…

Finally, and old classic we’d like to include somehow: the good old phase shift puzzle – ghost version. Here, you need to swap between the spirit world and normal world on the fly (ha!), in order to make your way across.

As for the overall design of the place, we’ve decided on dividing the ship in three parts. The first part will be where you first meet the ghost captain, and where you’ll get the skill that allows you to enter the spirit world. This part of the ship will be mostly storage, so there will be rooms with lots of crates, barrels, buckets and other kinds of storage. The ship will have had lots of cool cargo, so hopefully we’ll be able to make this part look interesting.

The second part (and second floor) will house the living quarters for the sailors that ran the ship. Here we’ll have their sleeping quarters (great halls with many beds), a kitchen, dining hall, and such. There might also be one or two optional friendly ghosts here, who might give you a quest or two.

On the third floor will be a more luxe area: here they’ll have a grand entertainment hall with a bar and ghastly piano playing by itself, there will be huts for high paying passengers, and finally, the path to the captains own room…

We’ve also talked about adding another type of “enemy” (sketched above), which you actually won’t be able to kill! These things are in fact armors that were part of a shipment, which have now been possessed. So long as you’re in the regular world, they’ll just lie on the floor blocking your way – but once you enter the spirit world, the armors will come to life and float in to the air towards you. If they get too close, they’ll attack, but you won’t be able to damage them back. Instead, your only option is to leave the spirit world and have them fall back unto the ground – a mechanic that might also be helpful in certain puzzles…

On a similar note, during these talks we’ve decided that the long you are in the spirit world, the more ghostly it becomes. As such, spending a long time in the spirit world will cause shadowlike arms or spikes appear out of walls or even the floor, damaging and slow you as you go. If you’ve spent a long time in the spirit world, you might even begin to see hints of these things in the regular world as well…

Now, over to something else, such as this week’s portrait! This time it features the pianist, a guy who, as you may have guessed, plays the piano (in the saloon, the be specific). Since he’s in the saloon I went with the theme and made him sort of buff looking. Otherwise not much else to say about this guy for now!

WIP:

Finished sprite:

In the animation department, Fred continues with the desert stuff and has made a really cool death animation for the Solem, which kind of gets frozen in place before it disintegrates:

There’s also a lovely little salamander in progress, which we want running around the place here and there, as a purely decorative detail. Here’s a bunch of suggestions he made, with the one we ended up choosing the the red circle:

And of course, it needs a few animations as well, so here’s one where it’s sticking its tongue out, one where it runs off, and one where it escapes by digging its way into the sand – how cute!

Teddy has been hard at work implementing all of Fred’s NPCs, too, and for the fun of it he decided to put most of them in one screen, just to see what it’d look like. Have a peek:

And with that, back to work! See you next time~

Moving on with the Ghost Ship plans, we have a bunch of enemy ideas we’d like to see in this final ‘true’ dungeon. Some have been planned for a long time – remember the sailors from Merchant Isles with strange hats? They were designed that way specifically so you’d recognize their ghost forms on the ship.

So basically, we knew we wanted Merchant Isles sailors in some shape. What we’ll likely do is have weapons (likely swords and such) floating around the rooms in the ‘regular world’. These can attack you, but you won’t be able to defeat them – at best you’ll be able to disable the weapon for a short time – unless you enter the spirit world. In the spirit world, you’ll notice they are in fact skeleton ghosts holding the weapons, and these fellows you can attack normally.

There will be two versions of the sailor enemies – one that does regular attacks and one magician type that buffs enemies or debuffs the players. The buffs/debuffs include making an enemy elite, or cursing the player with Reaper’s Blade (the utility skill also found in the player skill tree).

As mentioned, you’ll be able to make the regular attack ghosts lose their weapons a while into combat. If this happens, they will get a skill in which they can dislocate their own skeleton arm and throw at (boomerang-style) at the player, before picking up their weapon again.

We also wanted a new and more dangerous version of the Ghosties from Pumpkin Woods, only these more dangerous Haunties drip ectoplasm which drains SP while you walk in it – and might also drain the ghost meter which allows you to stay in the spirit world (if we decide to include the meter in the final spirit world design).

Finally, since it’s an old ship that has taken in some water here and there, we wanted to include a sea creature of some sort, and right now we’re leaning towards a pretty straight forward hermit crab that will serve as a tanky kind of enemy in the group.

Since we’re still in the middle of the desert, these will probably not be implemented in the near future, and as such it’s possible we’ll change these designs in some ways. At the moment though, we think we’re headed in the right direction, and hopefully it means starting work on the ghost ship enemies will go smoothly once we’re done with the desert areas!

Speaking of the desert, things are still not quite done over there, so over the next couple of days (and lets face it – probably weeks) we’ll work on editing and adding details to improve the overall feel.

First up, making sure the maps line up properly! Outside the walls on the right side of the town, a lot of grass grows around the exit. In order to make the transition between the maps less jarring, we realized we needed to make sure there was grass on this side in town, as well:

Next, a pretty major change in mechanic when it comes to going from what we call Map03 of the desert, to Map04 where the Saloon and entry to the desert town is. Previously, we wanted the player to use a season orb only accessible through a cave in Map02 in order to get past the water. Since we already used the season orbs once in the area, though, we decided that’s enough, and removed the water altogether!

Now your goal is to get there and push a wagon forward and out of the way instead! Which gives an added bonus of being able to go directly to the left into Map04 without having to walk around through Map02 once again!

Speakin of Map02, we realized that we had put the entry to the puzzle cave you need to pass through to get to the area above, sliightly too high on the map, which meant the interface was blocking parts of it as you enter. In order to fix this, we simply moved it further down:

Finally, for the season orb we decided to keep, we wanted to make a snow effect to show very clearly what part of the area gets affected by the winter magic:

Next, let’s decide on the names for these new couple of areas!

As you might guess, Dragonbone Dunes is the name of the desert, while Port Monnaie is the name of the port town (thanks to Chocodemon for the awesome suggestion). Now, Dragonbone Dunes gets its name from the dragon bones and dragon decorations from Map01, but we will add more dragon decorations here and there in the map to make sure the name ties in well to what you actually see, even if you’re not on the first map anymore.

Anyway, since we’re about to implement this area properly, it was time to make backgrounds for the enemy codex and the player sprite in the main menu respectively:

We also realized the path from Map03 to Map04 of the desert didn’t line up quite as well as they could have when zoning from one into the other, so we decided to slightly edit the exit from Map03 to better align with how it looks in Map04.

In the GIF below you can see what it looks like when I put the entrance to Map04 next to the exit of Map03:

As you can see, there’s a path in Map04 as well, so I added the beginnings of one in Map03 to match it:

Finally, we decided to amp up the entrance to the math puzzle cave a little, adding some decorative numbers (and colors) as decoration:

There are still a few portraits left, and this guy seems like he’s relaxing by a table near the beach. What a lovely idea in this hot weather (we’re in the midst of the Swedish summer over here)!

Work on the math puzzle continues as well, with Fred having made activation animations for each of the numbers and enemy buttons:

Teddy has started prototyping the puzzle as well, with a few edits compared to what we initially wanted. In our first design, we wanted the player to be able to make any path they wanted, however, as we play tested this it felt boring and, honestly, extremely easy. So instead, we made the redesign you can see below – where each of the buttons start inactivated except one, and as you step on it, 1-3 new buttons will activate depending on where you are in the puzzle and which buttons you activated previously. This made for a much more challenging version of the puzzle which we appreciated a lot more!

In the GIF below you need to start the puzzle on the block with a 0 and end with the block on the opposite end that’s also a 0. The second 0 is a placeholder for a = sign button which hadn’t been made when this prototype was added:

In this second prototype, you can see a basic version of the puzzle where enemy buttons create an encounter once you’re done with the puzzle. The same rules apply here, you need to match the number with the target number (which in the future will be illustrated with magic flames rather than simple text next to the puzzle ;)), but on your path you will also cross a number of enemy buttons that will activate upon puzzle completion:

As you can tell, there’s a lot of graphics missing here – such as, you know, the actual caves these puzzles will be in(!) but now that we have a working prototype we can at least be certain that we do like this type of puzzle even outside of the theoretical design (you’d be surprised how many ideas sound great on paper that don’t translate well at all when they’re actually put to the test).

Now, next week we’ll actually take a short break to recharge our batteries while the sunlight’s still with us, so the blog will be paused briefly, with new posts returning as usual on Monday the 30th!

Hope you guys also enjoy your summer, wherever you are, and see you soon! …And should you miss us too much, feel free to join our Discord where we hang out pretty much daily even during the vacation (even if we don’t always write, we watch over you always! 8))